Friday, 24 October 2014

Definitely. Not maybe. Live review of Maybeshewill at The Garage

Maybeshewill *****
&U&I *****
Flood of Red *****
Waking Aida ***1/2**

The Garage, Islington, 17th October 2014

Dear brethren, on a pleasantly balmy autumn evening, we are gathered here today to give thanks to the music gods for the rich harvest laid before us. 

Who'd have thunk it, but we have a sell out for an evening of post and alt rock. You 'eard. A sell out. A full house. A brimming, drooling congregation of zealots, acolytes and good people (mostly with beards) gathered to celebrate the off beam. The challenging. The underdog. And, brothers and sisters, it feels bloody liberating.

Waking Aida ***1/2**
First to the pulpit are genteel post rockers Waking Aida. Pretty much from the same clan and gene pool as Maybeshewill, they kick things off with a seductive set of soundscapes, noodles, time signature tomfoolery and lush pads. 

Nothing too novel or startling, but a solid and thoroughly enjoyable first reading to kick off evensong.

Flood of Red *****
With the second reading from the book of Caledonians are Airdrionian alt rock tunesmiths Flood of Red. And we're treated to a spellbinding and intoxicating performance full of spiralling textures and meaty melody with big swollen balls. And all topped off by the almost angelic and seductive vocals of sideways-facing Jordan Spiers.

It's a heady and evocative mix. Great swathes of superb musicianship, huge, anthemic tunes and deep, almost menacing heavy thunder painting an almost menacing biblical scene with Spiers' shaft of heavenly light cutting through and delivering salvation. A Flood of Old Testament proportions indeed.

&U&I *****
Next to preach to the agog congregation are the delightfully mixed up and agnostic &U&I. Tonight, they feel like a guest reverend from a hardcore fanatical or fundamentalist church among the other generally lilting and charming homilies. They deliver spit and fire. Brimstone and ball crushing, acerbic fervour. And it's brilliant.

Tighter than a 70's male TV presenter or DJ's ringpiece every time the doorbell rings, the trio produce a surging maelstrom of mathy mayhem with every stop, beat, fill and ghost note nailed to within hyper a quantized microsecond. There's so much skill on offer, yet it never sounds mannered or sanitised. 

There's roughness aplenty. But mainly vocally through screams and hellfire yells as a counterpoint to the mesmerising playing and head-spinning precision. And it works a treat. Oh yes.

Maybeshewill *****
So, the readings have been delivered. The offering received. The heady incense burned. It's time for the main sermon.

As the first tantalising notes of the opening to the phenomenal album Fair Youth ring out and then mutate into the majesty and splendour of In Amber, it's clear that this is no ordinary priest; it's pretty much as close as we can get to The Big Man himself making an appearance. Holy fuck.

Everything here is as close to perfection as humble mankind can get. The raw nerve-shredding might and spine-tingling beauty of the Leicestershire quintet's work is definitely as near as dammit a religious experience. 

How on God's earth can instrumental music generate so much powerful emotion? When Mozart sat hunched at his candle-lit dais banging out his melodic masterpieces, he can only have dreamt that those same twelve notes he banged on about would still be being arranged a couple of hundred years later with the same fervour and heart-shifting splendour but with relevance, modernity and originality. Shivers.

And to make things even more unfairly goosebump inducing and heavenly, tonight the lads are occasionally joined on stage by a perfect horn section just to wring more joyous tears from the bewitched and converted apostles. Everywhere around there are lumps in throats and pants, moist eyes and erect neck and arm hairs. 

The band themselves appear far from oblivious to the collective joy and fanaticism; they seem genuinely touched and even taken aback at the fervour and dedicated appreciation pouring forth from the converts at their feet.

They're all big tunes tonight, but the really 'big' ones like Red Paper Lanterns, To The Skies From a Hillside, Critical Distance and Not For Want of Trying bring the chapel walls down. In fact the whole town's walls. There are crowd surfers (yup, at a post rock show!), gyrating pits and general joyous and unbridled mayhem as each delicious chord progression, arpeggio and module milks us all dry.

The lads  return to the stage after the thunderous and passionate collective entreaties of the baying crowd before finishing the service by delivering the coup de grace He Films The Clouds Part 2 with its sampled voicy bit which turns the awestruck mob into a massive community choir belting out every word with football fan gusto.

As the final arpeggio fades into the ether and the crowd erupts for one last time, it's apparent that we've been in the presence of something almost spiritual this evening. A mesmerising, rousing, hugely emotional and moving miracle. At the risk of sounding like some sort of fucking Jehovah's Witness or cod Missionary: You need Maybeshewill in your life. See the light. Let them in. A-bloody-men.

By the way, in no way am I religious. I concur with Mr Steven Fry: "Religion? Shit it!" Just thought I'd better clear that up.
But if there was a God, he probably is 5 guys from Leicester.

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